Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Food prices continue to increase as pandemic impacts supply and demand

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If your grocery bill seems higher lately, you’re not imagining things. Economists say the rate of inflation on groceries is five percent. That’s higher than it’s been in 13 years.

Little Rock mom-of-four Clarissa Bradley is feeling the pinch at the register.

“Our grocery bill has tripled,” Bradley said.

For the family of six, grocery shopping has become quite expensive.

“So, our budget used to be about $350 every two weeks and now it’s having to go up close to $700,” Bradley said.  

Chief Economist Michael Pakko with the Arkansas Economic Development Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock said the price of food is going up across the board.

“Food prices have been rising gradually really for the past couple of years,” Pakko said.

Pakko said this is the most rapid rate of price increases we’ve seen in many years and most of it goes back to the pandemic’s effect on supply and demand.

“It’s been difficult for logistics chains to stay open and maintained,” Pakko said. “On the demand side, we have really pent-up demand all around the country when a lot of people weren’t able to get out and go to restaurants or even grocery stores for a time.”

Pakko said the prices of processed foods are rising faster than others. This is something Bradley has seen first-hand.

“Like kid-friendly snacks is really the hard part, but with four kids you gotta do what you gotta do,” she said.
Pakko said one of the best things you can do is pay attention price changes, then make swaps.

“If you see the prices of beef rising, you might want to substitute chicken,” Pakko said.

For Bradley, it’s about getting creative.

“Coupons,” she said. “We shop in bulk when we can and then sort of divide it out as we need to for the week.”

Pakko said he’s not sure we’ll see grocery prices come back down any time soon, but says they’ll hopefully level out at some point, making things a little easier at the checkout line.

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